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A True Ascetic

Dr. Sunil could see huge advertising hoardings around the city on his way from airport to the Hotel. It was all about Swami Kapilanand's Prabchan (Discourse) at capital exhibition field. The Hoarding displayed a saffron clad, smiling middle aged healthy Swami with closed eyes and in lotus sitting pose. A dozens of marigold garlands around his neck while a halo was beautifully photoshopped behind his head. The face of the swami resembled with someone known.

In late 80ies Sunil left for America, where he studied applied mathematics at MIT and now he is a distinguished Professor there. He was visiting to his home town, Bhubaneswar on an invitation as a chief guest to a seminar organized by group of mathematicians & educationalists. 

Bhubaneswar, being a temple city has a huge population of God fearing people who are interested to spend their evenings in hearing such discourses. It was not like this before in '80ies. Few such events used to happen in the city. Every household uses to practice spiritual activities as a part of their daily routine. Children used to listen mythological stories from their grandparents. Now life has become super-fast and there is no time to get indulge in such routines.  And just for namesake to get touched with our day old traditions, everyone has started taking shortcut routes, which are being catered by many emerging spiritual organizations.

Dr. Sunil closed his eyes for some time and smiled as he looked  again at the  Swami's image. He inquired about the Swami to his escort, Dr. Harsh who was sitting beside him.

"Do you know about the Swami?" asked Dr. Sunil

"Yes, He is a very popular Swami in the country and specifically in Odisha as he is himself an Odiya."

"Is it?"

"Yes, his original name is Kapil Kumar Pattnayak"

Dr. Sunil again closed his eyes. 

Kapil Kumar Pattnayak, was his college mate. An outspoken young man who was very religious and who wanted to become a Hindu activist and leader in the future. He did averagely well at studies. He could have done more, as he was intelligent and was very logical in his approach. But all his times were spent in attending religious camps and pilgrimages. 

On other hand he was thin and shy and remained confined to his studies. Even he was religious, he had a habit of regular meditation. Unlike Kapil's religious extravagance, Sunil's  was undisclosed and confined to himself. It was due to such habit he had a sharp mind and had inclination to know the existence of the Supreme Being. He loved mathematics and wanted to be an educationist. 

'Can you arrange a meeting with him?', requested Dr. Sunil to Dr. Harsh

Dr. Harsh exclaimed, " Are you interested in such stuff?!!"

"Dr. Harsh, Spirituality is not 'Such Stuff' it is the essence of all knowledge. In old days Risi and Munis who were expert in 'such stuff' postulated many theories of Indian science & Mathematics. You must be knowing about Bhaskaracharaya, Aryabhatta and Barahamir?"

"Yes I know, but....."

"He is an old friend of mine. I just want to meet him as a friend"

"Oh! I will try to arrange then. It will be little difficult. But one of my neighbors is his follower. Let me ask to him"

At the hotel Dr. Sunil was received with cordiality. As Dr. Harsh left him,Dr. Sunil reminded him for arranging a meeting with The Swami.

"Sure, I will try" Dr. Harsh smiled and assured.

It was sometimes in the late afternoon; Sunil got a call from Dr. Harsh.

"Dr. Sunil, good news for you. I asked my neighbor, Mr. Adhir,  you remember I told, a close disciple of the Swami. I have asked him to arrange for a meeting of you with the swami. He said that, as the swami heard about your name there was a twinkle in his eyes and he is even eager to meet you. Is it possible for you to meet him today? As you are to attend the seminar tomorrow it is up to you. We can fix the appointment the day after."

"Fix it today. I can't wait to meet an old friend"

"Ok. Mr. Adhir will come to pick you up at 5.30pm"

At the said time Adhir came to the hotel to pick him up. He was a tall man wearing a white pyjama and had smeared red vermilion in-between his eyebrows. He joined palms as he greeted Dr. Sunil.

Adhir took Dr.Sunil to the exhibition ground where Swami Kapilananda was to give his discourses to the public. There was a huge Pandal to accommodate more than 5000 people. There were book stalls, photo stalls and PRO stalls throughout the field. Organizers and volunteers were preparing for the evening discourse. Dr. Sunil was escorted to a restricted entry Pandal, a beautifully decorated place, resembling a royal camp, with a huge chair placed at the center.  He was asked to sit on the cushion mattress. After a wait around fifteen minutes, Dr. Sunil could hear slogans outside of the pandal.

“Swami Kapilanand Maharaj Ki……………. Jai” (Hail to the Revered Swami Kapilanand)

About fifty people escorted the tall healthy charming swami dressed in saffron inside the pandal.

Dr. Sunil got up in courtesy and smiled at the Swami.

Instead of going straight up to the chair at the center, Swami Kapiland came near Dr. Sunil and hugged him tightly.

“Oh! My Dear Friend, My brother; how are you?”

“I am fine my dear friend. You have become a great man!”

“And you are even, a great mathematician. I have kept good track of you, brother”

Keeping his hand on the shoulder of Dr. Sunil he said to his close associates in the pandal.

“Do you all know who this man is?”

“Yes, He is the great Mathematician Dr. Sunil Kumar Samal”, said one among them.

“That is his outer identity”, the swami said in a saintly voice as if about to reveal a divine secret. All were eager to hear. Even Dr. Sunil was puzzled.

“He is my Spiritual Guru (My Teacher)”

All of them were astonished.

Dr. Sunil Knew, why the swami was saying thus.

No one dared to ask why the swami referred Dr. Sunil as his teacher.

There was a strange silence in the pandal.

No one believed that a man who was just wearing a white shirt and a black pant with no outer sign of a man to be spiritual master could possibly the teacher of the Swami.

It was then the time for the discourse. A huge public has gathered.

“Sunil, My brother, it’s time for the discourse. See once for yourself, the friend then a friend now” The swami said in a voice of added jest.

“Sure, I will” Replied Dr. sunil.

Indeed the swami was a good orator. He had mastery on the Odiya Bhagbat, written by the great Jagganth Das. He discussed about 24 Gurus (Teachers) of Uddhav in the discourse. Even Dr. Sunil was impressed.

At the end he said, “Mana tohara nija Guru, Udhaba kete tu pacharu
(Oh Uddhab!! Your mind is your own teacher; there is nothing to ask more).

Back at the hotel Dr. Sunil could very well recall, the phrase from Odiya Bhagbat. It was said to him by his mother, a staunch odiya religious woman. He had written the phrase on the door of his hostel room. The room which he and the Swami had once shared back in 80ies during their college days.

It was that day, when Kapil was almost mad and heartbroken, when he had failed the final exams.  He had never failed any exams in his life. Most hurting for him was the comments of the professors on his way of living.

Professors laughed and commented “Baba Kapil, go to Kumbh Mela, Fetch water for Shiva Ling, Do Sankirtans and God will pass you in the exams”

Sunil consoled him the whole day. But at night when Sunil was asleep, Kapil planned to end his life. He lost his faith on God. It was around 3.00 am, he slowly opened the door and closed it. There was light in the corridor. He read the phrase written on the door.

Mana tohara nija Guru, Udhaba kete tu pacharu
 (Oh Uddhab!! Your mind is your own teacher; there is nothing to ask more).

Kapil stood there for sometimes. He changed his mind. He was about to enter inside the room. Sunil open the door from inside.

“What are you doing here?”

Kapil fell  at the feet of Sunil and said with tears in his eyes, “Your words saved my life”

“What my words?”

“Those you have written on the door”

“Those are not my words; these are from the Great Bhagbat”

“Teach me your way of living”

“I will”

Sunil taught him his ways. They used to meditate for hours together. Kapil could experience the Inner bliss from regular meditation. He passed the exam with good marks and decided to leave studies and dedicate his life in learning the greatness of the book whose one phrase has saved his life.

Sunil by then, who was almost mastered the art of meditation, had become a Yogi. But it was only know to Kapil and  to none other in the world. He had his own ways.

To the world he is just a Mathematician.

A true ascetic never requires an uniform!


sareeta said…
The writing is not like a typical religion-bound sentiment. But, it teaches the true essence of religion and the way it should be practically implemented in order to make life happy, successful and blissful. Great work Gyan bhai

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